I think libraries are awesome. Whether it is the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, or my local smalltown library that has about half the amount of books that I do (not including the ones I keep forgetting to return), there is something about the library atmosphere that I love. I know I can learn about books that I might like to read on Amazon, but there is something much more satisfying about finding the Dewey Decimal system number for a subject I’m interested in, then diving into the stacks to see what’s available. (My favorites? 133.4, 646.7, and 530 — I head for those first in any library I enter. How much more of a library-geek could I possibly be?)
While librarians may have the stereotype of being stuffy and sometimes stern in “shushing” everyone who talks, this bad rap is nothing compared to historical library-tyrant Ptolemy III of Egypt who reigned from 246 BC to 222 BC. Ptolemy was the ruler who founded the Great Library of Alexandria, which some scholars have estimated contained almost a million documents — a pretty impressive feat considering that the printing press and the HP Laserjet had yet to be invented. So how exactly did Ptolemy amass this amazing collection? Simple! He decreed that any document, scroll or book in any written language would be confiscated from any traveler entering the port or city of Alexandria and copied for the library. No exceptions, and yes, it included what we might consider to be some rather privacy-invading search activity. It was kind of like the Patriot Act, Egyptian-style.
But let us return to the present day, where a library does not usually strip-search you looking for scrolls when you enter, and where the possibilities of information retrieval and entertainment can seem limitless. The slightly mysterious but very cool S. Le of “I feel unusual…” liked My Cool Job enough to take the time to fill us in on what a cool thing it is to get to spend every workday in the “stacks”.
Thanks to you, fellow blogger, and I do promise to finally get my overdue books back soon!
When people ask you “what do you do?” how do you describe your job?
I work at a Public Library. My main jobs are working at the Adult Dept. Circulation desk and heading up the Interlibrary Loan Dept. I also do some computer tech type jobs, maintain the shelves of new fiction, new non-fiction, mysteries, westerns, science fiction, and regular fiction room. Obviously we are a medium sized, small city library. We all have multiple jobs!
What are the things about your job that you love?
I love the library itself because it is very old. It was a high school in the 1950’s. It is fun to see all of the new books before they reach public display. It’s sort of like working in a candy store for the book lover. I usually enjoy assisting the public or “patrons” as they are known in the library world. Finding obscure books for people is always fun and a big part of the Interlibrary Loan department. There is a lot of paper work, but I enjoy that as well. I am rather anal!
What are the things about your job that you hate?
The absolute worst thing about my job is finding porn on our public use computers. We have rules that patrons sign stating they will not look at porn but they think we are idiots and won’t check. It is also difficult working with the public who may be obnoxious, smarmy, scary, or smelly.
What education, training, vocation or just plain luck would someone have to have in order to get a job like yours?
Since I am only a Library Assistant instead of a “real” librarian, really only a high school diploma or GED is required. My current position was attained quickly though because of previous experience in the business world. I had held management positions and piloted a new programme for schools in a four county area. It may also help that I live in a small city instead of a large one where there is a broader employee base.
What is the funniest story you can think of that involves your professional training or your job?
You know, I can’t quite think of anything very funny. My job is fun but a certain decorum is maintained in the library setting. Most everything I can think of is more funny-sad instead of hilarious. Sorry!